Stone has been an exterior material that humans have trusted since building began, and brick is not too far behind. Both perform well under just about any condition imaginable, and each lends a property a classic, genuine charm that other materials simply cannot compare to. However, technology has advanced quite a bit in the past few hundred years; brick and stone exteriors are now often opted over in favor of less expensive materials that boast some pretty impressive benefits. The contractors who work in brick and stone will, of course, tell you that there is no better cladding material on the market; for those who want the facts, we’ve done a little research, and left no stone unturned!
Confusion Over New Siding Materials
One of the things that makes it so difficult to gauge how brick and stone compare to the more modern cladding materials is that there’s a bit of discrepancy from one report to another over how long the newer materials last. Some put vinyl siding near the bottom of the list, expecting it to hold up only for about 25 years; other reports say that vinyl siding will easily hold up for 40 years or more. Wood siding statistics are just as bad. Some say 20 years, while others say up to 75, or even more if it is properly maintained. Vinyl’s advocates say it lasts longer than aluminum; aluminum’s advocates say it lasts longer than vinyl. By the time you get done reading all you can find about siding materials, it’s nearly impossible to tell which one is worth investing in!
The Beauty of Stone and Brick
Though each can look spectacular, the real beauty of brick and stone siding is that no matter who does the report, each is expected to last 100 years or more. If you’d rather trust your own senses than a report done by a company who might have its own interests, check out any city that’s more than 100 years old. If you don’t feel like traveling, you can look up images of any city older than 100 years online and see buildings made of brick that have been functioning well since that city was founded (to see the longevity of stone, check out images of St. Patrick’s cathedral or the pyramids of Giza).
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Are Stone and Brick the Ultimate in Exteriors?
Yes, if you can afford them. These materials leave all of their competitors in the dust when it comes to performance and longevity. Each provides insulation, and each is fireproof. The expense of these materials, unfortunately, puts them out of the reach of many homeowners. At more than twice the cost of wood or stucco, and quadruple the expense of vinyl, it is easy to see why so many homeowners would rather invest in another material and put the left over funds to another use.
The Best Alternatives to Brick and Stone
Remember that little pig sitting pretty inside its brick house while the big, bad, wolf huffed and puffed to no avail? The story is an old one, but in modern times, unless that pig had a spectacular job and some pretty solid investments to fall back on, it would probably be forced to choose an alternate material (or opt for vinyl and use the difference to pay off the car or some student loans).
Since they are truly in a class by themselves, it is difficult to say what the most practical alternative to brick and stone siding would be. Vinyl is certainly a viable option, as are wood and aluminum. For our money, however, fiber-cement is a less popular, though very appealing option. Often lasting 40, 50, or more years (with minimal maintenance and repair requirements over its lifetime), fiber-cement siding holds up very well under some pretty extreme conditions. Like brick and stone, fiber-cement is fireproof, impact resistant, moisture proof, and not a food source for insects. Unlike brick and stone, most people will be able to fit installing fiber-cement into their budgets without sacrificing in other areas of the home.